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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Johnny English Reborn

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

There's so much to commend in "Johnny English Reborn" (Universal), a comedy sequel which has none of the scatological humor of its predecessor—2003's "Johnny English"—that it seems a shame to highlight, and quibble about, a single vulgar sight gag.

Still, since it's such an unfortunate anomaly in an otherwise recommendable movie, here goes:

As the proceedings open, British secret agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is undergoing martial-arts training in China, hoping to make himself invincible after an earlier spy operation in Mozambique has gone terribly wrong. Part of this training involves pulling ever-larger rocks that—as we can tell by implication—are attached to his private parts. The payoff, though, doesn't emerge until a full 90 minutes later, during a climactic fight with an evil double agent, when Johnny is shown to be impervious to being kicked in the crotch.

Fortunately, this is the only dubious, and dull, gag in the film, as Johnny—a combination of Atkinson's much-celebrated Mr. Bean and Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin of the "Naked Gun" franchise—overcomes any and all obstacles in elaborately droll set-pieces and employs the occasionally funny weapon, including a Rolls-Royce that responds to voice commands.

Like Mr. Bean, Johnny is at his funniest and most sympathetic when he's competently triumphing over severe odds. We're not laughing at Johnny, but with him. Younger adolescents are unlikely to understand some of the dry James Bond references, but adults will, and the in-jokes aren't prevalent enough to put this into the cult-film category.

The plot—as scripted by William Davies and Hamish McColl and directed by Oliver Parker—has Johnny rebounding from an operation in which the new president of Mozambique was assassinated while under his supposed protection.

On his way to uncovering the people responsible, Johnny continually embarrasses his boss Pamela (Gillian Anderson) and lurches toward a romance with psychologist Kate (Rosamund Pike).

The film contains some cartoonish violence, a single tasteless visual joke and fleeting mildly crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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